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</script></div>{/googleAds}Constantine, the latest comic book to big screen conversion, unfortunately has two strikes against it right out of the chute. First of all, the less than stellar success of the likes of The Hulk, Blade: Trinity and Daredevil are most assuredly fresh on everybody's mind. Secondly, the marketing campaign of Constantine incorrectly depicts the film as a cgi blitz-fest targeted to the same group that will go to their graves swearing that Van Helsing is a great film. While Constantine's special effects are indeed quite spectacular, the film itself is so much more than flashy graphics. It's an engrossing, well thought out story that seamlessly blends modern day realism with old world mysticism. It throws in a bit of Biblical revelation, dark humor, religious theology and even a thread of police drama for good measure.

The struggle between good and evil on Earth is held in check by a negotiated wager between God and Satan. Neither side shall be afforded the luxury of gaining the upper hand with regards to a sheer body count of human souls. A corollary of the wager, stipulates that neither side is allowed to make direct contact with the human world except for penetration by a sort of half-breed soul-snatcher that takes the Earthly form of humans and walks among us in everyday life. So goes the captivating back story of Constantine, loosely based on the DC Comics/Vetigo Hellblazer series.

John Constantine (Keanu Reeves) is a condemned man who knows that when his life on Earth has run its course, he'll spend eternity in hell. He learned of his fate at a young age after he committed suicide. Rather than passing to Heaven, he was given a blistering 2-minute tour of the depths of hell before being resuscitated and cast back amongst the living. Ever since his nightmarish revelation, Constantine has dedicated his life to trying to change his fate. Knowing the conventional paths to the Kingdom of Heaven are no longer available to him, he figures his only option is to destroy all demons and banish them back to hell. He hopes this will "buy" his way back into the good graces of Heaven. Aiding his crusade, is his ability to see and recognize these "half-breeds' whereas, to the average Joe, they're indistinguishable from real humans. This not only gives him a leg-up in the exorcism business, it also gives the audience some of the most interesting visuals and characters of the movie, such as the androgynous personification of the Angel Gabriel (Tilda Swinton) who is as beautifully peaceful as she/he is disturbingly mesmerizing. Peter Stormare, turns in the best portrayal of Satan since Pacino's rendition in The Devil's Advocate. He is very funny, but in a frighteningly deadly way.

I'm not a fan of Reeves' acting abilities. In fact, you can call me the president of the "Pull Keanu's SAG Card Now" movement. However, if there's ever been a role that's tailor-made for his ability to not act, this is it. His brand of looking bad-ass plays perfectly to a character that's purpose is to exist rather than to emote. Resigned to his ultimate fate, Constantine is a droll, bitter demon-fighter that, as Reeves puts it, "prefers not to get close to people because they tend to die." Not sure if Constantine's lack of emotion is Keanu molding himself into his character or the filmmakers writing down to his abilities... probably the latter. Either way, the film works in spite of Reeves.

The main plot thread involves Constantine helping investigate the suicide of Detective Angela Dodson's (Rachel Weisz) twin sister. During their investigation, Constantine begins to realize he is not quite prepared for the dual role of demon-slayer and murder investigator as their search for answers takes them literally to hell and back.

Constantine is a shocking yet entertaining supernatural thriller, as visually stimulating as it is thought provoking. It's a perfect example of high-powered cgi visuals working in unison with the script rather than in place of a script. You'll walk out of the theater a bit confused about the plot, but on your way home as you run the scenario through your head, all the pieces will wonderfully fall into place. The filmmakers managed to take a highly philosophical subject that could have bogged down in its own muck, and turned it into a fun, well thought out action flick.


DVD

DVD Details:

Screen formats: Widescreen Anamorphic 2.35:1

Subtitles: English; French; Spanish; Closed Captioned

Language and Sound: English: Dolby Digital 5.1; French: Dolby Digital 5.1

Other Features: Color; interactive menus; scene access; audio commentary; music video; trailers; deleted footage; making-of featurettes; production notes.

* Disc 1
o Full-length commentary - with director Lawrence who is joined by one of Constantine's producers, Akiva Goldsman along with writers Kevin Brodbin and Frank A. Cappello.
o Music video by A Perfect Circle.
o Trailers
* Disc 2 - Special Features
o Conjuring Constantine
o Imagining the Underworld
o 14 Deleted Scenes

Number of discs: 2 - Keepcase packaging.

{pgomakase}

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